I'm a sucker for puzzle games like Cut the Rope. I especially love it when they are designed to have bite-size challenges (levels) that can be played whenever I have a short break.
When Jump Out! for iPhone was released April last year, it became an instant hit for me. I loved it, but always wished I could play it in a bigger screen estate. Finally, after more than a year, the iPad version of Jump Out! was released a couple of weeks ago. This time, I'm not the only one who plays it-- my son Philip takes turn as well. And, even though he is only three years old, he really enjoys the game.
What the game is about
Jump Out! HD is an iPad puzzle games that focuses its storyline on small creatures trying to escape from their boxes by jumping from one red gear to the next. However, there's a catch-- these creatures can't stay away from the red gears for too long, so you need to time and aim your movements precisely.
First introduced to the game is a charming green beetle, but three more creatures will also be playable as you go along. These creatures are not just cute mascots-- each one has a unique ability that you need to understand in order to solve more complex puzzles. For example, the blue cricket is weaker but can jump farther, the shrimp is stronger but has a shorter jump, and the newly added seignior Woodlouse can turn into hard-skinned ball with a good acceleration to pass through difficult terrains.
The key success factor for a puzzle game always lies in the level design. With a simple premise, a game can become very exciting (and addictive) just by adding obstacles along the way. Jump Out! HD has plenty of these obstacles, from sugar bars that act as temporary walls, nails & blades that you must to avoid, electrowalls that can only be turned off by pressing the right switch, to fans that would help your bugs fly. These obstacles are introduced one at a time as you progress through the game. As you become familiar with them, you will see various combinations of these obstacles in the higher levels.
Once you have finished 60 levels in the game or both level sets, the game lets you unlock the advanced mode. In this mode, the app no longer provides you with a trajectory line but shows you a power gauge instead. This makes it harder to measure a jump, but your score will be multiplied by two.
If 60 levels do not satisfy you, the game also lets you unlock five additional bonus levels every 24 hours. Thus, in total, there are 150 playable levels in Jump Out! HD.
Why I think Jump Out! is a great puzzle game
I believe that a great game needs to have a simple premise that is flexible enough to be extended in many directions to make the game fun. Jump Out! has nailed this by introducing a simple story --a bug trying to escape its confinements-- that is extended through its great level designs.
In a game like Jump Out!, adding obstacles (of many types) is the most obvious design tool in addition to the terrain itself. The app manages to add air fans, bubbles, bumpers, and pockets that enable the creatures to move in all sorts of way. I personally like the pockets because they remind me of the warp pipes in Super Mario Bros games.
The designer increases the game boundaries by adding multi-room levels where you need to pass through several screens to finish and by using clocks instead of red gears to temporarily host the small creatures. This requires you to think fast and carefully plan your jumps.
The other small details that I like are levels where you need to use two hands simultaneously to make two creatures jump at the same time and the trophy levels which are essentially bonus levels that can be accessed if you have unlocked the required achievements. Unlike many games that are unable to make something worthwhile from having achievements within their game, Jump Out! has managed to make achievements something I try to find and unlock in order to play the trophy levels.
Jump Out! HD is an excellent puzzler for the iPad. It's a game that both you and your juniors can enjoy. With 150 unlockable levels and an advanced mode, Jump Out! HD offers a lot of gameplay time. The creative level designers behind the game have convinced me that the Jump Out! franchise has a great future ahead. I've seen it improve a lot since last year and I believe it will become one of the Hall of Fame puzzle games for the iOS platform.
Get it on the App Store: iPad